While the business world may seem like it’s full of overnight success stories, the fact is that very few, if any, famous entrepreneurs made a name for themselves by sheer luck. It takes focus, perseverance, and skill to start and maintain a new business; even more so to make that business a success.
Here are six ways to take your idea from a dream to achievable success.
1. What’s Your Passion?
There’s that old saying: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That means passion is the first key to building a successful career. No one wants to spend their life at a job they hate. So don’t waste time building a career just for the money; instead, ask yourself what it is you love to do. What are you really good at, that also gives you a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done?
From there, think about ways to monetize this talent. Remember: just because something comes easy to you doesn’t mean it is easy for everyone.
The bottom line: Staring with your passion will create the sense of drive you need to stay focused and move forward.
2. Join the Club
Success is contagious! Wherever you find your passion, follow it to groups and communities in your area and online. Join message boards, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn groups. Volunteer for events in your area sponsored by businesses in your chosen field.
The point is to become an active and noticeable presence in your area. This is called networking, and it is one of your best resources for building your new business from the ground up.
The bottom line: After a while, you’ll become familiar with successful people. As they get to know you, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Once you feel comfortable, identify a potential mentor. A mentor in your field is an invaluable asset for you, as they can help direct you and introduce you to other people you’ll need to know.
3. Create Blocks of Time for Work and Life
At first, it will be easy to get lost in your work as the adrenaline rush of a new project overtakes you. However, you’ll need to force yourself to take a step back and create routines. Flexible routines that incorporate both work and life prevent burnout so you can use your energy more efficiently.
Create healthy habits early on. Good nutrition and exercise will keep your body strong, which in turn will keep your mind sharp. Pulling “all-nighters” is actually counter-intuitive to success: your brain and body need quality sleep in order to process what you’ve done during the day and to refresh for the tasks ahead. Learn how to wind down before bed. Beat the stress of the day with meditation or yoga.
The bottom line: Create blocks of time for yourself that includes both work and your non-work life. It’s best if those blocks follow a certain pattern every day, but know that you will devote, say, three hours to work today and two hours to your friends and family. The blocks can be divided up and moved around as emergencies and distractions come up, but you should have a baseline to return to as soon as possible.
4. The Big Picture, the Small Details
Have an overall business plan. Set yourself smaller, easy-to-reach goals within that plan. Use a bullet journal or list app to make these goals visible and easy to check off every day. This will keep you focused when you get distracted. Ask yourself: did you accomplish today’s goal? What is tomorrow’s goal?
For your smaller goals, do the hardest thing first. This can be the most time-consuming, the one that’s the least desirable for you, or the thing that is simply the most challenging. Once that’s over, the rest of your micro-goals will seem like a piece of cake!
The bottom line: After a while, you’ll start to see real results in both your overall goals and your everyday tasks, which in turn will keep fueling your momentum.
5. Be In-The-Know
Take some time each day to keep up with the latest news and technology in your field. Subscribe to online newsletters; check blogs; join listservs; create Google alerts. One of your work blocks per day should be devoted solely to catching up with what’s going on in your field, including keeping up with your competition.
Never stop learning. A “beginner’s mind” is the key to staying fresh and up-to-date, rather than stagnating and falling behind. If that means signing up for adult education classes or taking an online certification course, then do it.
The bottom line: The most successful people in business are the ones who are always willing to learn something new, to try something new, and to keep up with any and everything that can possibly propel them to new heights.
6. Focus On What Works; Fix What Doesn’t
Starting a new business can feel like an exercise in futility and a blow to your self-confidence if all you focus on is what’s not working. Be aware that all new enterprises have their ups and downs; that’s a fact of business. Most, if not all, successful entrepreneurs have a string of failures in their past. Try to take it in stride by looking at your business plan and seeing how far you’ve already come—even if you’re still on step one.
As you move forward, keep track of what works and go from there. Be willing to admit that you need to learn as you go and to drop the things that aren’t working for you.
A great way to do this is with customer feedback. How are people liking your product or service? Set your ego aside and really listen to the things people complain about. Remember that it’s not personal and immediately work on finding solutions.
The bottom line: Failures are simply a way to learn what doesn’t work. Customer complaints are tools for adjusting your product or service to make it even better. Be confident in your ability to work with challenges and your setbacks won’t set you back for long.
Hard work and preparation will pay off if you are simply willing to be patient and keep yourself in check with these healthy habits.